A Blue Zone is a term used for areas with the longest life expectancy, lower rates of chronic diseases and higher quality of life. These regions have a concentration of persons over the age of 100.
Researchers have found nine areas where Fort Worth residents can change their lifestyles in order to lead more healthy lives.
“This isn’t about living longer,” Mayor Betsy Price told NBC 5’s Cynthia McFadden. “This is about having more life in your years.”
Fort Worth is trying to reach out to the community through schools, city government, employers, restaurants and grocery stores.
Three local restaurants: Juice Junkies, Righteous Foods and La Perla Negra, are the city’s first Blue Zones project-approved restaurants. These restaurants have adopted practices such as only serving bread when it is requested and offering smaller portions of popular dishes.
They also offer no free refills on sweetened beverages and no salt on the table unless it is requested.
“We are excited about celebrating the first Blue Zones Project Approved restaurants and continuing our collaboration with other local establishments,” said Suzanne Duda, vice president of the Fort Worth Blue Zones Project.
“The Fort Worth restaurant community has been very creative, offering up new ideas and looking at new ways to use existing ingredients to help make the healthy choice the easy choice in Fort Worth.”
One local woman, Vera Wicker, born in 1915, is 99 years old. She lives at the Stayton, an assisted living home in Fort Worth. She says that there aren’t any secrets to a long life.
“My mother was a very good provider and saw that we got what we needed, she made lots of healthy meals…during the depression we ate lots of potatoes,” says Wicker.
Wicker said that she doesn’t eat potatoes anymore, but she enjoys playing Gin Rummy with a group of five women everyday. She said she is a firm believer in having a strong sense of community.
Dan Buettner, the New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zones Solution, explains why the healthiest people on earth are living well into their 100s. In his book, he reveals how to transform your health by choosing smart eating and lifestyle habits.
He calls it the “Power 9“, which includes:
- Walking; instead of taking your car everywhere, try to ride a bike or walk.
- Purpose; have a strong sense of belonging within your community. Buettner says that purpose adds up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
- Less stress; stress leads to chronic inflammation.
- The 80 percent rule; stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full. This will keep you from overeating and remind you not to eat everything on your plate.
- Eat beans; many people in these Blue Zones eat beans every day and eat meat about five times per month.
- Wine; researchers say that moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, especially if one drinks with friends.
- Belonging; attend a community or faith-based service at least four times a month. According to Buettner, this adds up to 14 years of life expectancy.
- Family; commit to a life partner and keep family time important.
- Support; surround yourself with people that support you and your lifestyle.
Buettner says that 80 percent of chronic disease such as cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes are avoidable.
To learn more about the Blue Zones Project visit their website. To learn more about events in Fort Worth, visit the Fort Worth site here.
Madeline Hamm is a education and community reporter for The 109. Email her at [email protected]